One has just been sent out as a biblical dove, has found nothing green, and slips back
into the darkness of the ark -- Kafka

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Zweig's Desire for Anonymity

From The World of Yesterday:
Anonymity in every aspect of life is a necessity to me. Even as a boy I could never understand those writers and artists of an earlier generation who, by means of velvet coats and waving hair, by means of unruly locks falling over their brow, as with my esteemed friends Arthur Schnitzler and Hermann Bahr, by means of showily trimmed beards or clothing in extreme style, sought easy recognition on the street. I am convinced that when the physical appearance of a man becomes familiar, he is unconsciously tempted to live like--to use Werfel's title--a "Mirror-man" of his own ego; to assume with each and every gesture a particular manner, and with this external alteration cordiality, freedom and carefreelessness of the inner self are usually effaced. Therefore, if I could start all over again today, I should try to derive double enjoyment, as it were, from those two happy states, those of literary success and of personal anonymity, by publishing my works under another, an invented name, a pseudonym; because if life itself is exciting and full of surprises, how much more so is a double life!
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